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BRISBANE: Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka looked solid on her return to elite tennis after 15 months out as she beat Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 7-6(9) in the first round of the Brisbane International on Monday.

The 26-year-old from Japan last competed on tour at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2022 and had her first child, daughter Shai, in July before stepping up her preparations for the Jan. 14-28 Australian Open.

Osaka displayed no signs of rust to break Korpatsch to love in her first game back and the former world number one turned up the heat again towards the end of the opening set to close it out in 38 minutes with a sizzling forehand winner.

Twice Melbourne Park champion Osaka dropped serve for a second time late in the next set to squander her advantage but continued her clean ball-striking in the fiercely contested tiebreak to secure the victory.

“I was super nervous but I was really excited to be out here. It feels really good to be back,” Osaka said after taking pictures with fans courtside.

“I feel like the last couple of years that I played before I had my daughter I didn’t return as much love as I was given, so I really feel like that’s what I want to do in this chapter.

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“I just really appreciate people coming out and cheering for me, because I feel there was a time that I was just a little kid trying to watch my role models play. So it feels really surreal sometimes to be playing on these courts.”

Up next for Osaka is a clash with former world number one Karolina Pliskova, who received a bye into the second round.

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